Roundtable "Gender-based Violence and Reparations – A Hemispheric Overview after Twenty Years of the Adoption of the Convention Belém do Pará"
IACHR Headquarters, October 27
On October 27, 2014, during the 153 Period of Session, the roundtable "Gender-based Violence and Reparations – A Hemispheric Overview after Twenty Years of the Adoption of the Convention Belém do Pará" was held. The event was jointly organized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The main presentation of the event was conducted by the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo. She talked about the challenges of developing legal standards on reparations on violence against women. In particular, she spoke about the need to move towards a perspective of transformative reparations that address the structural roots of violence and aim at improving the situation of women in society. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur stated that “the implementation of states’ obligations in reparations is not a reality; it remains grossly underdeveloped.” She stressed that “reparations cannot be about returning women into the situation they were found before the individual instance of violence”. The UN Rapporteur noted that, in this regard, there is a need for individual measures to be adopted along with “institutional and structural measures of transformation”.
On her part, the Chair and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the IACHR, Tracy Robinson, offered the welcoming remarks. In her speech, the Chair traced the historical achievement of the Convention of Belém do Pará, which is “the first such Convention in the world to address violence against women and the most ratified human rights convention in the inter-American system”. The Rapporteur of the IACHR stated that “violence against women [...] is regrettably an ordinary feature of life throughout the Americas, engrained and endemic.” She also indicated that the Commission has noted shortcomings in the conquest of "transformative reparations".
The roundtable also featured the specialized comments of Carmen Moreno, Executive Secretary of the CIM, who stressed the importance of access to justice so that the repairs can be achieved, and of Luz Piedad Caicedo, Research Coordinator of “Corporación Humanas Colombia”. The discussion also featured comments from members of the public.
Discussion with Civil Society Organizations
Washington, March 2013
On March 13, 2013, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, Tracy Robinson, hosted a discussion with women’s rights organizations which were participating in hearings in the framework of the 147º Period of Sessions of the IACHR. More than 20 women’s rights organizations participated in this event, where they shared information about their current work, initiatives, and priorities. The event was also attended by representatives from the Inter-American Commission of Women and the follow-up mechanism to the Belem do Para Convention, where they presented information about their current work and ongoing initiatives.
On March 1, 2013, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, Tracy Robinson, participated in the OAS Policy Roundtable “The Rights of Women: From Law to Practice”. Representatives from the Inter-American Commission on Women and the Follow-Up Mechanism to the Belem do Para Convention, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Women’s Rights of Haiti, the Legal Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and Women’s Link, discussed important gaps between the theory and practice in compliance with human rights obligations pertaining to women’s rights issues in the Americas. Some of the main problems discussed where the situation of risk faced by girls to violence and acts of discrimination; the multiple forms of discrimination suffered by indigenous and afro-descendent women; acts of threats, violence, and harassment suffered by women’s rights defenders; existing gaps in the normative regime which regulates the right to work for women; and existing challenges to guarantee the full political participation of women throughout the hemisphere.
On October 6, 2012, the Rapporteurship participated in the First Forum of Indigenous Authorities and the Government of Colombia, which was organized by ONIC in Bogota, with the collaboration of the Presidential Council on Gender Equality, the Colombian Institute of the Family Wellbeing, and UNFPA. It had as its main objectives to promote joint actions to eradicate practices which violate the rights of indigenous women pertinent to their health and personal integrity. The event had the participation of indigenous authorities; various entities from the Colombian state; UNFPA and UNDP, among other international organizations.
On September 6, 2012, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women participated in Costa Rica in the International Congress on Access to Justice organized by UN Women and by the Secretary General’s Campaign Violence against Women, which had the participation of approximately 400 persons from governmental and non-governmental sectors. Members of the judiciary from several countries, representatives of women’s rights organizations and scholars participated in the event. The Rapporteur, Tracy Robinson, offered a presentation in a panel entitled A challenge for Justice in the XXI Century: The end to Impunity for Crimes of Violence against Women. Other panelists were Nadine Gasman, the Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Secretary General Campaign on Violence against Women; Marcela Lagarde, Mexican expert on women’s rights; Teresa Zapeta, Coordinator for Central America for the Indigenous Women Program of UN Women; and Zarella Villanueva Monge, Magistrate of Costa Rica. On September 7, 2012, the Rapporteur presented the report Access to Justice for Women Victims of Sexual Violence in Mesoamerica in a event organized by UNFPA and the Supreme Court of Costa Rica, with participation of justice officials and civil society.
The Rapporteur traveled to Peru between August 23rd and August 24th, 2012, with support from DEMUS. They held meetings with the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, with the Attorney General’s Office, and with organizations that work in the advancement of women’s rights issues in the country. The Rapporteur also offered presentations in two events with high-level officials from the justice sector where she addressed the themes of access to justice, sexual violence, due diligence, and the rights of women.
From June 28th to July 1st, 2012, the Rapporteurship participated in a course on the Inter-American System oriented towards indigenous women in Boruca, Costa Rica. It was organized by Forest Peoples Program and had the participation of approximately 20 women and leaders who are members of the Indigenous Women’s Biodiversity Network. The participants stressed the need for the Commission to undertake a regional project to examine closely the main advances and challenges faced by indigenous women in the region and to publish a regional thematic report related to this issue.
On June 1st, 2012, the Rapporteur presented the report Access to Justice for Women Victims of Sexual Violence in Mesoamerica before Magistrates of the Supreme Court of El Salvador, and held meetings with the Executive Director of the Salvadoran Institute for Women (hereinafter “ISDEMU”), Ms. Yanira Argueta, with United Nations agencies, and civil society organizations, where the results of the report were discussed. All the activities in El Salvador were organized with support from UNFPA.
On May 31st, 2012, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women launched in Guatemala the report Access to Justice for Women Victims of Sexual Violence in Mesoamerica. More than 80 representatives from organizations working with sexual violence from 14 countries assisted to the presentation. This included public officials and members of the judiciary, as well as members of civil society organizations and international agencies. Delegations from Barbados, Belice, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay participated in the event.
On May 28, 2012, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women was the keynote speaker in the public forum Challenges to Guarantee the Right to Health of Nicaraguan Women and Girls, organized by International Pregnancy Advisory Services (IPAS), the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos, CENIDH), the Autonomous Movement of Women, and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). During her stay in Nicaragua, the Rapporteur also participated in meetings with civil society organizations and with the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Alba Luz Ramos.
On May 23, 2012, staff from the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR made a presentation on "The Inter-American Human Rights System and its Impact on the Protection of the Rights of Women," in the International Human Rights Congress "Origins, Development and Perspectives on Human Rights from a Multidisciplinary Vision." The Congress was held in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico, from May 23 to 25, 2012, and was organized by the University Juárez Autónoma of Tabasco, Mexico.
From February 6 to 8, 2012, the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women participated in a workshop in Haiti related to the issue of sexual violence, access to justice, and medical certificates. The event was organized by MADRE, the CUNY School of Law, and the World Bank. During the visit to Haiti, the Rapporteurship received information related to the situation of violence against women and girls in Haiti.
On January 18, 2012, staff from the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR moderated the inter-sectorial meeting "Integrated Responses to Human Rights, HIV and Violence against Women in Central America," held in Antigua, Guatemala. The event was organized by the Inter-American Commission on Women.
On July 13, 2011, the Rapporteur participated in a public hearing on abortion before the Chamber of Deputies of the Argentina National Congress.
The Rapporteur on the Rights of Women visited Lima, Peru, from July 11 to 12, 2011, in order to participate in a Meeting of Women's Organizations and Magistrates organized by the DEMUS institution. During the visit, the Rapporteur also held a meeting between the parties in the Case of María Mamérita Mestanza of Peru, as a follow-up to the friendly settlement agreement reached by the parties. The Rapporteur took this opportunity to present the report Access to Maternal Health Services from a Human Rights Perspective on Tuesday July 12, 2011.
On October 18 and 19, 2010, two expert meetings were held in Washington, D.C., which were attended by experts from across the Americas, representing academia, civil society, international organizations, State agencies, and other sectors. On October 18, the work focused on identifying progress and challenges in the discrimination-free protection of the economic, social, and cultural rights of women in the areas of employment, education, and access to and control of resources in the Americas. The information gathered will be analyzed in a special report with specific recommendations intended to improve and strengthen laws, policies, and practices for dealing with the problem of discrimination and ensuring that women’s economic, social, and cultural rights receive appropriate respect and protection. On October 19, the topic was sexual violence against women as an obstacle to the exercise of their rights to education and to health, and the main barriers that women face in securing access to effective judicial remedies to remedy that problem. The information gathered will be analyzed in a special report with specific recommendations intended to improve and strengthen laws, public policies, and practices for ensuring that acts of sexual violence against women, particularly those perpetrated in the areas of education and health, are appropriately punished.
From November 17 to 19, 2010, the Rapporteurship made a working visit to El Salvador to gather information at the national level on the main progress made and challenges faced by women in exercising their economic, social, and cultural rights without discrimination. During this visit, on November 18, 2010, the Rapporteurship presented the report Access to Maternal Health Services from a Human Rights Perspective. In addition, on November 19, the Rapporteur’s office organized two workshops to provide officials from all levels of government and civil society organizations with training on the standards and mechanisms of the inter-American human rights system as they apply to discrimination and women’s economic, social, and cultural rights.
Moreover, from June 22 to 26, 2009, the Rapporteur’s office visited Bolivia to gather specific national-level information about the main progress made and challenges facing women in exercising their economic and social rights without discrimination.
In February 2010, the Office of the Rapporteur sent to the States a questionnaire on the major developments and challenges in the area of women's political participation. This questionnaire as part of a series of activities that the Rapporteurship has been implementing since 2007 in the context of a project to study the political participation of women in the Hemisphere.
On September 14, 2007, a regional working meeting was organized in Chile for the purpose of compiling qualitative and quantitative information on the main achievements and challenges with regard to the political and public participation of women in the Americas, as a first step in the process of preparing a regional report on the subject. The meeting took place at the Center for Human Rights of the University of Chile's Faculty of Law, and included the participation of more than a dozen experts on the subject from around the Americas, as well as IACHR staff. The discussion covered four main aspects of the issue of discrimination against women in the sphere of political and public participation: 1) participation in elections; 2) participation in government and public administration; 3) participation in the justice system; and 4) social participation and the protection of those who defend women's rights.
Likewise, on July 2, 2008, the Office of the Rapporteur organized a working meeting with 15 experts from various sectors in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The purpose was to compile information on the situation of women in the sphere of political participation in Argentina, in the general context of protection of women's rights in that country, with a view to incorporating the information into the regional report the Office of the Rapporteur is preparing on the subject.
In addition, on September 25, 2008, the Office of the Rapporteur organized a meeting of experts in Caracas, Venezuela, to discuss discrimination against women in the sphere of political participation from a human rights perspective. The meeting included the participation of 21 national and international experts from government, international agencies, civil society, and the academic sector. Participants discussed and shared ideas on the main achievements and challenges regarding the issue of women's political participation in the Americas from a human rights standpoint and a discrimination standpoint. They identified recommendations the Commission could issue to improve States' compliance with their human rights obligations.
On February 28, 2008, as part of its project on reproductive rights, the Office of the Rapporteur held a first working meeting on the protection of women’s reproductive rights, with the aim of taking its first look at the subject. Participants in the meeting included representatives of civil society and international agencies that work to protect the reproductive rights of women in the Americas.
In addition, on July 15, 2008, the Office of the Rapporteur organized a second working meeting of experts to examine discrimination against women in the exercise of their reproductive rights. The purpose of this meeting was to identify—through a participatory process—major advances made and challenges women continue to face in exercising their reproductive rights. It addressed such topics as the discrimination women may face in access to reproductive health services and access to the information and education needed to be able to make informed decisions on this issue.
On May 6, 2009, the Office of the Rapporteur organized a third subregional workshop to address the issue of access to information in the reproductive arena from a human rights perspective. The event included the participation of recognized experts on the subject from around the region, as well as the IACHR Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.
The Report Access to Maternal Health Services from a Human Rights Perspective was approved by the IACHR on June 7, 2010.
In 2009, the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women carried out a visit to Bolivia, in which it held a workshop designed to train judiciary employees at all levels on issues related to violence and discrimination against women.
On June 30, 2008, the Office of the Rapporteur participated in a training workshop on the human rights of women in the sphere of health, organized by the Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund in Lima, Peru.
On March 31, 2008, the Office of the Rapporteur participated in a national symposium: Sexual Violence: A Problem of Public Health and Social Justice, in La Paz, Bolivia. The symposium was organized by the National Committee to Combat Sexual Violence—made up of various State and non-State entities—in order to arrive at intersectoral commitments to follow up on the recommendations regarding the problem of sexual violence that the IACHR made in its last report on the human rights situation in Bolivia.
On March 27, 2008, the Office of the Rapporteur participated in the conference entitled Equality for All: Access, Discrimination, Violence, and Corruption, organized by the International Association of Women Judges on March 27 in Panama City, Panama.
On April 12, 2007, in Bogotá, the Office of the Rapporteur presented the report Violence and Discrimination Against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia. During the visit to Colombia, then Rapporteur Víctor Abramovich held meetings with civil society organizations that work in the defense of women's human rights and congressional representatives from a broad spectrum of the Colombian political sector, to discuss the report’s conclusions and recommendations. A panel was also convened to discuss and share ideas on the report's recommendations; the event included the participation of representatives of government, the judicial branch, and civil society.